The art and Zen of mowing the lawn


If you were to go online right now and search for Zen and lawn mowing, I can pretty much guarantee you thousands of results. For some people, the idea of mowing the lawn takes on a level of dedication and importance that cannot be overstated.

This essay should not be a part of those results. We are not going to explore the mystical nature of lawn care.

But there is a beginning and end that leads to a new beginning to be found here. And it carries along something of a transcendent atmosphere.

There are three stages of work involved in mowing the lawn around our house.

Stage one is hopping on the ride on mower and heading out. Itís a good-sized yard. Mostly level and open. Not a hard project, but large enough that the ride on mower is wonderful to have.

Stage two involves a push mower. There are areas with some rocks, that could really damage a ride on mower. There are drainage ditches that would flip a ride on mower. Sections that require, I suppose a bit more finesse is a good description, along with understanding that you donít bring a sledgehammer to put a thumbtack in place.

Stage three breaks out the trimmer, the weed whacker. Getting right up against fences and walls, sheds and trees.

Given the way schedules can work, and rain can come along, the effort has been known to take two or three days. (And for those of you that question such a schedule, Iím envious of you. You obviously have never needed to mow your lawn after two or three days of rain, where puddles and soft ground prevent progress.)

The trick is, whether it takes you a full day or days, or you can wrap everything up in under an hour, something funny happens when youíre done. You need to do it again. The grass is going to grow, and in a few days you will need to mow it. Grow, mow, repeat. It doesnít end.

And itís there that we begin to uncover our moment of Zen.

There are challenges that get summed up as shoveling against the tide. Moments where futility comes into play. Moments where no matter what you do, it will never be finished. And mowing the lawn may be one of the simplest and most perfect examples of such challenges.

I need the frying pan to make the meal. Iíll clean it when Iím done. And once I clean it, Iíll end up using it again. Maybe I shouldnít clean it. Maybe throw it away. Maybe store it someplace inconvenient. But Iíd still need to eat. Still need to make dinner. Whether the frying pan or something else, there will still be dishes. If not this, it will be that.

The car needs gas! What can I do to stop driving? Iím tired of driving now. Itís not nearly as exciting as it once was. I just want to click my heels together three times and be wherever I intend to go. I donít want to spend three or four hours on the highway.

I finished mowing the lawn today. The last thing on this run was walking around with the weed whacker. And as I did, I noticed a few spots that were mowed yesterday that already seem to need to be mowed again.

It doesnít end.

No wonder I donít make my bed.


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